MORE children died in NSW last year - 628 - than in any year since 2002. Of those 110 had been identified as "vulnerable", as their families had contact with the Department of Community Services.
The number of deaths rose from 599 in 2005. There were 84 deaths (13.5 per cent of the total) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, who make up 3.5 per cent of the population, the annual report of the Government's child deaths review team showed.
Deaths of children under the age of one rose from 367 to 401, including many cases involving conditions present from birth. There were 54 deaths of infants after they were left to sleep.
Sixty-five children died in traffic accidents, 15 from drowning and 10 from assaults. Seven children and young people died from suicide - the lowest number since 1996.
In one case a child's mother fell asleep in the bath with a child and one child died from injuries, including a fractured skull, suspected to have been caused by abuse.
The report said: "In another incident, risk of harm reports related to the physical and psychological wellbeing of the child as a consequence of exposure to domestic violence, parental drug use and neglect."
The Commissioner for Children and Young People and head of the review team, Gillian Calvert, said the increase in infant deaths was believed to be the result of the higher birthrate.
Half the children who had had contact with the department died from disease or morbid conditions, in a quarter the cause of death was yet to be determined and another quarter was from falls, traffic accidents or other incidents.
"It's not [all] about child abuse, it's actually a measure of whether they're vulnerable," Ms Calvert said.
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